Virtual Assistant Information

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Delegating to a Virtual Assistant Creates Value for Your Business

Are you overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks of operating your business? Do you spend hours focusing on mundane duties that could easily be performed by an assistant, thereby freeing you to focus on the projects that you and you alone need to complete?

As the saying goes, ‘Don’t work harder; work smarter.‘ That’s precisely what you’ll achieve if you work with a virtual assistant. Whether you opt for local virtual assistant services or choose to work with a remote executive assistant, there are lots of perks and advantages that you’ll enjoy, freeing you to do what you do best.

Delegating to a Virtual Assistant Creates Value for Your BusinessWhat Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
Virtual assistants can help with a broad range of tasks and duties, from off-site secretarial services and virtual office support, to word processing help and data entry, to editing and proofreading help for bloggers and so much more.

Virtual assistants can provide help with a vast array of duties and tasks, which will vary according to the precise nature of your business or organization. Knowing how and when to delegate is essential to building value in your business. Let’s take a look at some of the most common tasks and assignments that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, thus giving you more time to focus on what you do best.

Phone Tasks — Phone-related help is one of the most common uses of virtual office support. A virtual office assistant can serve as a secretary, tending to your phone by answering calls, taking messages and making simple phone calls to confirm an appointment or make an inquiry. This will allow you to focus on other tasks, while avoiding interruptions throughout the day.

Research — Research is a task that can be easily outsourced to a virtual assistant. Whether you’re seeking facts, figures and statistics for that upcoming presentation or infographic, or need help to create a list of businesses in your area, a virtual assistant can get the job done right. There are also niche-specific helpers available, such as an author’s assistant, who can research a particular topic for your upcoming magazine article or book.

Data Entry, Word Processing or General Transcription — Typing, entering data and transcribing can all be performed by a virtual assistant or general transcriptionist. In addition, you can opt to hire someone to help with proofreading, editing, translation and even posting to the web. In fact, you can get a WordPress virtual assistant to write up posts, publish content and moderate comments.

Graphic Design and Presentations — Don’t spend hours creating next week’s PowerPoint presentation and don’t waste your time attempting to design an infographic for your website. The results will be much better if you turn to a graphic designer or a virtual assistant who specializes in creating presentations.

Blogging and Website Projects — Maintaining your company blog or tending to your website can be time-consuming. So whether you’re a professional blogger or a solopreneur seeking to boost your web presence, use a virtual assistant to help with writing content, posting content and updating the site. Virtual assistants can also help with managing your social media campaign.

Shopping and Price Comparisons — Many business owners spend hours shopping, whether it’s for supplies or a new printer for the front office. So don’t spend hours comparison shopping; let a virtual assistant do it for you.

Personal Assistance — Some business owners also require help with a range of in-person tasks. Turn to a local virtual assistant for tasks such as filing, collating, even assembling that new desk or dropping off a local delivery. A virtual assistant can provide essential office support for solopreneurs and small businesses, boosting productivity and improving your bottom line, without the added expense of hiring a full-time staffer.

About the author: If you need a local virtual assistant, Raleigh, NC natives can turn to the team at Tandem Business Group. We’re experts in virtual assistance! In North Carolina, we’re regarded as one of the best providers of local virtual assistance services, along with virtual office help and offsite administrative support. So whatever your need, give us a call and let us help you create value in your small business!

If You Target Your Market You WILL Get More Clients!

Before beginning any marketing campaign, you need to know who your target market is.  It’s that simple.

“But EVERYONE can be my customer!”

As much as businesses may like to think that everyone could be a customer, it’s not time or cost-effective to try to market to everyone.  In fact, no business can afford to target everyone.  Targeting a specific market does not mean that you have to exclude any particular sector of the market from buying from you. So YES…everyone CAN be your customer.  But targeting your market simply means that your marketing message needs to be designed to appeal to, and reach, a specific sector of the market.  By choosing a niche market, small businesses can effectively compete with large companies and it is much easier to determine where and how to market your company.

How to define your market

You will want to define your target customer as specifically as possible.  Here are some areas to consider:

  • Who are your current customers?
  • Who are your competition’s current customers?  Is there a niche that is being missed?
  • Analyze your Product or Service – List the benefits of your product or service then create a list of the industries or professions that would benefit from your services.
  • Choose Specific Demographics:
    • Age
    • Location
    • Gender
    • Income Level
    • Education
    • Marital Status
    • Occupation

When you’ve narrowed down your demographic, then start to look at their main concerns and what causes them pain.  What solution do you offer that they are looking for?  What keeps them up at night?  Target your marketing message to appeal to the needs of your market.

Determining your target market also makes it easier to determine which Social Media Platforms will connect with them the best.  If you’re targeting other businesses, LinkedIn would be a good place to focus some attention.  If you’re targeting women, Pinterest or Facebook will probably be the most useful.  When you know who you’re looking for, it becomes easier to find them more efficiently.  Your market will no longer be scattered or haphazard, it will be focused…taking you less time and costing less money.

About the author: Jody Higgins is the CEO, Chief Social Media Strategist, and Owner of My Virtual Assistant Service, a multi-VA firm that specializes in creating and implementing social media and online marketing strategies to build brand awareness, increase website traffic and make more money for her clients. Jody also enjoys coaching and teaching entrepreneurs on all aspects of social media, as well as small business leadership. You can also find Jody and My Virtual Assistant Service on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Do You Love or Hate Facebook?

Facebook is a love it or leave it kind of platform. The people who love it LOVE it…the people who hate it avoid it like wildfire.

I personally love it. I live four hours away from my home town so Facebook is often my only way of keeping up with what is going on in the lives of my brother, sisters and numerous nieces, nephews, friends and family. I get to see Halloween costumes, engagement rings, and baby pictures all from afar. And I am not alone in my love (ok…obsession) with Facebook.

As it turns out, I am part of a very large group of people who love Facebook.  As of October 6, 2013 there were 1.26 billion total users on Facebook. Here are a couple of other interesting stats:

  • Total number of Facebook daily active users – 728 million (October 30, 2013)
  • Daily active users in the US – 128 million (August 13, 2013)
  • Number of Facebook users in China (which is blocked) – 87 million (October 3, 2013)
  • The country with the most active Facebook users is Canada (August 23, 2013)
  • Total number of Facebook friend connections – 150 billion (February 1, 2013)
  • Total number of likes since launch – 1.13 trillion

Below is a fun video “5 Super Weird Facts about Facebook” that was created by Mashable.  Don’t forget to tell me in the comments section what you love and hate about Facebook. Who knows…you just might be the inspiration for my next blog.

About the author: Jody Higgins is the CEO, Chief Social Media Strategist, and Owner of My Virtual Assistant Service, a multi-VA firm that specializes in creating and implementing social media and online marketing strategies to build brand awareness, increase website traffic and make more money for her clients. Jody also enjoys coaching and teaching entrepreneurs on all aspects of social media, as well as small business leadership. You can also find Jody and My Virtual Assistant Service on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant? How To Make It Work

As more and more business hire virtual assistants to grow, questions are being raised on how arrangements with virtual assistants work.

Unlike a traditional office setting, most virtual assistants, work remotely. It requires a lot of trust from business owners and entrepreneurs on the initiative, expertise, and discipline of the virtual assistants that they hire.

Business News Daily, conducted several interviews with virtual assistant service providers and entrepreneurs that hire virtual assistants for tips that business owners can use in building working relationships with virtual assistants.

Below are just some of the tips they shared:

Diana Ennen, founder of Virtual World Publishing.

“You want a VA who you get along with and feel comfortable trusting with your business information. It’s OK to get testimonials and check references.”

Jennette Pokorny, chief operating officer of human resources service provider EverNext HR.

“You want to make sure that the VA understands your business and the way you work. Having to train a VA in your business should not be your focus. Interview the VA or company you are hiring as you would an in-house employee. Ask yourself: ‘Do they fit my needs? Do they understand my industry? Do they have the experience in the areas I will use them in?'”

Lis Dingjan, founder of branding and Web development firm The Identity.

“Paying hourly is usually a downfall for everyone. It doesn’t encourage your VA to work efficiently, since some tasks only take a few minutes, and will create a frustrating work relationship. Package things up and [set a price] for batch tasks if possible… The more skilled VAs can be more expensive, but they are worth it. Know what you can afford, and look for an assistant who meets your needs.”

Jackie Gernaey, CEO of the New York chapter of business coaching service provider The Alternative Board.

“Remember that VAs are not your employees. They may have competing schedules with other clients.”

Business coach Yoon Cannon

“Your own delegation and communication skills play an important role in creating a successful outcome with your VAs. Take the few extra minutes to be super clear and specific in all your communications.”

Work With A Virtual Assistant To Hire Freelancers

Work With A Virtual Assistant To Hire FreelancersWhen running your business, there will be times where you will need to hire someone to do temporary work for a certain project, such as a rebranding, a speaking event, a conference, etc. These people might be graphic designers, copy editors, photographers…but not all businesses can afford to have a graphic designer or copy editor on full time. Maybe the one you use is not available anymore, or everyone you have met is outside your budget. Your next option is to find and hire a freelancer.

With a Virtual Assistant on your team, the process of hiring a freelancer can become close to effortless. If you are at a point in your business that you need to find an extra hand for an upcoming project, here is a great and fast way to work with your VA to hire your next freelancer!

1. Write out a job description.

With any position you are hiring for, you need to make a description, and it needs to be clear and concise. In a quick email or phone call, explain to your VA what you need, what they need to do, your budget (hourly or entire) and how soon you need it done. Have him/her write out a job description for you to approve. Once it has everything you are looking for, have your VA create a profile and post the job for hire on your selected freelancer hiring sites.

2. Handling Submissions.

Because your VA created the profile, they will be able to manage submissions. This also helps any distractions that will come with emails pouring in notifying you of new applicants. Make sure your VA knows to handle these submissions in a professional manner. Delete anyone who didn’t have the courtesy to write a decent cover letter. If the person is greatly out of your budget, you can trash those as well. I myself go through each submission and examples carefully – if I get a sense that their style or portfolio doesn’t match what my client needs, I don’t even bother with sending it to them. The only exception is if I see a really great candidate but their budget is a tad higher, I’ll keep them in the running because my client might have some wiggle room for someone really great.

3. Have your VA create a database.

In either a spreadsheet or word doc (whichever you prefer), ask your VA to send you a database of the qualified applicants. Ask them to include:

Name

Country

Fee

Rating

Link to Portfolio

Cover letter

When that is completed, the VA can send you this doc and you can quickly peruse through the applicants, therefore making your decision making easier and quicker.

4. Have your VA ask any questions or confirm information.

If you have any questions, don’t waste time contacting the applicant yourself. Have your VA write to them to confirm skills, schedule, fee, etc. They can update the database with your answers.

With this process, you should be able to find a great freelancer for your project. I’ve used this step by step for hiring logo designers, website designers and website developers with my clients. It’s greatly effective and saves my clients the hassle of having to sort through hours of applicants and emails Sending them a clear database of applicants makes the decision quicker, therefore reaching their goal quicker – which is what virtual assistants are all about!

Save some time (and headache!) and get a VA on your team to make your projects happen faster than ever.

About the author:Fiona Zwieb is a virtual assistant specialized in working with musicians, taking their daily struggles and busywork off of their plates so they can focus their energy and time on their music – and in turn, make more money with less stress! Track her tips, stories and life as a musician’s assistant on her blog, fionazwieb.tumblr.com and follow her on Twitter @fionazwieb.

15 Quick & Dirty Ways to Maximize Your Partnership with a Virtual Assistant

Maximize Your Partnership with a Virtual AssistantRelationships are complex. They can be both frustrating and rewarding. We want to invest time and energy into the relationships closest to our hearts –  a spouse or partner, children,  family and friends, but work relationships… not so much. Who’s got the time?

Along come the wonderful benefits of a Virtual Assistant. Working with a VA comes with the  distinct advantage of no manufactured-yet-required smile when you walk into your office.  Small talk elimination: you don’t ask your VA if she wants sugar in her coffee, while you are preparing your own.  Nor do you have to keep your voice down when you are arguing with your spouse over who is to pick up the toddler from daycare. Ahhhh, mental space. Sounds good, right?

So, how do you build a hassle-free virtual partnership with someone who is invested in your company and understands how all its intricacies work?

First, hire someone good. The rest is listed below.

1. DELEGATE The first step in working with your VA is to figure out the right tasks to take off your plate. Examine what takes up the most of your time, isn’t income-generating, or you simply hate to do.

2. BE STRAIGHT Start off the relationship by being as straightforward as you possibly can. Spell out your objectives and expectations, the tasks you want managed regularly and how many additional projects you expect to come up. I recommend putting it all down on “paper” or requesting a document with everything spelled out  as your VA understands it. This way, there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

3. PUT IN YOUR TIME Invest some time in training your VA on the ins and outs of your business processes, your clients, your voice and your preferred technology tools. This might sound counterproductive since, at the beginning, you’ll be spending more time training your VA than if you simply performed the tasks yourself, but in fact, when you put in the time to train your VA properly, you’ll benefit in the long run.

4. GIVE CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS When assigning a task make sure that all its components are clearly laid out and that your expectations are voiced. Include a due date. Don’t leave anything to be assumed! Remember Oscar Wilde’s take on what happens when you assume?

5. DOCUMENT PROJECTS AND PROGRESS There are numerous programs to manage teamwork, from an easy (and free) Excel spreadsheet to CRM or Project Management software. Find the one that works for you and use it!

6. CALL It’s a good practice to check in with your VA weekly. Setting a specific day/time of the week is best as it becomes part of your work routine. Even if it’s a simple 5 minute call, it’s a great tool to keep the relationship on point.

7. BE UNDERSTANDING Your VA is not a robot! The truth is if you work with computers for long enough you’ll find that even robots aren’t robots (hello glitches and bugs). Mistakes happen! Don’t get down on your VA (unless it’s a biggie, in which case refer to #14)

8. MICROMANAGEMENT; THE NOT-SO-SILENT KILLER Micromanaging is a killer when it comes to building trust and morale in a work relationship. It’s important to note that humans, by nature, have a desire for autonomy, so don’t squander that with micromanagement.

9. TRUST YOUR VA You’ve come to Virtual Assistant Israel, a company that spends an inordinate amount of time sifting through candidates and hires ONLY the best of the best. You’ve interviewed three qualified  VAs and have  chosen the one you find most suited for your needs. Now trust that decision and let her do her job.

10. BE OPEN TO NEW IDEAS Your VA is a fresh pair of eyes. Let her know that you are open to hearing about more efficient ways of doing things. Not only will this mindset support your success, it will make your VA feel more included and invested in your success.

11. RESPECT BOUNDARIES When starting a new relationship with a client I find it to be a good practice to communicate my “work hours”. I explain that these hours are not hard and fast rules (I’m always willing to go the extra mile, or in my case the extra few hours), but that’s when they can expect me to be available. Your VA is balancing work and family, just like you are. Respect those work hours and assign tasks accordingly.

12. GIVE FEEDBACK Once your VA sends you a completed task, be sure to provide feedback, especially at the start of the relationship. It can be glowing or constructive, but give it! Left unsaid, your VA will wonder if the work met your expectations. When the feedback is positive, she’ll be confident continuing the work she’s doing. If the feedback is constructive, it’s an opportunity to tweak the way you like things done so it will be 100% the way you want it, next time.

13. ASK FOR FEEDBACK (and listen to it!) Check in with your VA about how the tasks and relationship is progressing. Ask if there is anything that you can do to help the partnership thrive. Sincere interest will go a long way in productivity!

14. KEEP YOUR CRITICISMS CONSTRUCTIVE Although nobody wants to admit it, times will indeed come up when you will be displeased with you VA’s work (nobody’s perfect.) When that time comes, it’s important to express your disappointment in a constructive way. This does not mean stepping on eggshells so as not hurt your VA’s feelings, but there is a fine line between mistakes that need to be addressed and lashing out your disappointment.

15. AND FINALLY – LET GO! Once you’ve finished training, established trust and have found a system to keep the lines of communication open with your VA, let go. Rest assured that the tasks and projects you’ve handed over are now in your VA’s very capable hands.

Follow these steps and you’ll find that you’ve earned a successful partnership with your VA, which will give you the time and freedom you need to invest in growing your business.

About the author: Tovi is the Content Coordinator for Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States. VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. Each VA has a U.S. phone line and works U.S. hours. Visit Virtual Assistant Israel to learn more.

Build a Global Business With Virtual Assistants

With more and more small businesses for the same market, how can you make sustain growth and profitability?

By taking the next step, going global, which can be done with virtual assistants.

Take for example the international beauty and fashion brand Cherry Blooms. Who would have thought that a company with products sold in over a 1,000 stores worldwide and have been featured in Oscars and Golden Globes swag bags, is all being run in a home office in Brisbane, Australia?

Jellaine Ross, the entrepreneur behind Cherry Blooms, managed to do build a global brand and is expected to make a $3 million turn over by 2014 from the comfort of her own home. And she credits the work of her team of virtual assistants in turning a simple local business in 2008 to worldwide brand.

In a story published on the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross’  shares how she built her brand from the ground up. Her #1 advice for entrepreneurs who want take their businesses globally is to hire a virtual assistant.

“You can’t get rich doing minor tasks, so delegate as much as you can and be precious with your energy. Hiring a virtual assistant can free up time you’re spending on admin, so you can instead focus on growing the business. At Cherry Blooms, we use oDesk or Elance to find and hire virtual assistants. They are usually based overseas and work remotely, and you can find well educated assistants who don’t charge a fortune. We use virtual assistants to upload our Instagram posts because the social media platform doesn’t allow you to preload, so it has to be manually done. We give them the content and they manually post on our behalf.”, Ross says.

Ross also emphasizes the need to properly manage virtual teams and to take advantage of all the tools available to ensure that tasks are done efficiently and on time.

“If your team is scattered all over the world, Basecamp is a great project management app for delegating projects to interns and virtual assistants. You can add a task, have it assigned to someone, and the person receives an email – and deadline, if you wish – and Basecamp will keep track of progress of the tasks.”

In addition to having a competent VA team Ross also credits networking, creative online marketing campaigns, and attending tradeshows as the other components that made Cherry Blooms a global success.